PSPs start out backwards with digital. This is solely due to the fact PSPs are subject to the misguided advice (sales staff) of the iron manufacturers. In the olden days (not so long ago), iron hawkers and consumables vendors (plates, ink, paper) were all given direct access to the corner offices of smaller PSPs and direct access to the GMs of the larger PSPs. This open access has established a blind trust of these people by the PSP, much like the masses blindly trust the advice of doctors, dentists and lawyers. PSPs get the latest news from these people as to what the competition is doing, who is buying what types of iron and so on and so on. That works when you’re investing in iron, but when it comes to W2P, it’s absolutely outside the wheelhouse of these people. They are the blind leading the blind.
This pattern began with the sales of digital presses over the past 15 years. Their newfangled and highly unstable machines (small and large models) were introduced to the PSPs as a new means of generating revenue. Sales staff were taught all the buzz words but hadn’t a clue on what the PSP was in for when he purchased one of these behemoth and faulty boxes for hundreds of thousands of dollars. They used the acronyms “VDP” and “ROI” and any other thing the PSPs would swallow. Digital shops sprang up with one box while PSPs were forced to add digital to keep their existing customers.
The presses didn’t become dependable or stable up until about 5 years ago. This just added to the headaches and more dramatic losses for the PSPs. He had to send staff for training (additional fees of course), buy supporting equipment and workstations and deal with a different pricing matrix that his estimating program doesn’t support nor does a traditional estimator understand. He had to increase his physical footprint by putting in a clean area for digital, increase his overhead for electrical and additional storage for new digital papers. Not to mention the unique bindery needs this new digital model requires for small runs as the PSP’s bindery is only set up for large runs. This was all to support an unstable product often with severe press down times (sometimes up to 50% of the time). Uneducated service staff and poor troubleshooting often resulted in days of down time waiting for replacement parts or senior service people to figure it out.
Today, most PSPs are on their second or third iteration of digital presses (depending on how many mistakes they made or defunct presses they bought). They borrowed to buy the first one, paying high interest, exorbitant click charges and service fees all on top of the principal. Most took the initial plunge without a single qualified customer. I refer to this as the sales of “HOPE”. It’s as goofy as buying a delivery truck and starting a delivery business against UPS or Fedex just because you have a truck!
And the slick willy iron sellers laugh all the way to Morton’s and talk about it over two hundred dollar bottles of Pinot Noir. Then they show up before the press is paid for offering to roll the unpaid portion into the new deal (further adding to the sunk costs of the PSP). These big press manufacturing companies make their quarterly numbers all at the expense of the unsuspecting but cornered PSP.
They continue to hit the wall over and over again with trying to increase sales. The PSP doesn’t know anything about digital, so he turns to the only one he knows might be of help; the digital press staff?
Question #1: What do these people know about selling print? Nothing! All they do is tell you about their other successful customers in other markets (not your market). Now the blind press guy, who sold the blind PSP the expensive box with no real customers, is leading the blind PSPs conventional sales staff on how to sell digital print?
Question #2: Now that there are all these presses out there and the PSP is already upside down, what does one do to right the ship?
Watch for the next post on how to asses your landscape and how to qualify whether or not you need to build your own W2P framework or partner with someone who already has one in place.